Category Archives: Monthly Roundups

A Cruel Angel’s Thesis Revisions: April ’23 Roundup

It’s been a crunchy month of cold weather, hot tea, and spicy, spicy thesis revisions. But darn it, I did ’em! They’ve been handed in and are, all things falling into place, en route to the final stamp of approval they need before it’s DONE-done. Wish me one final bucket of luck!

I got to do a bit of blog writing this month, but (much as I want to jump in and show my work off, ha) I’m going to stick to my plan of taking May off. I know, this place will look so desolate and devoid!! But it will give me some breathing room to find my groove again and stack up a nice queue for June and beyond.

For now, though, let’s dive in and see what I published this past month:

On AniFem

Aro/Ace Representation in Anime and Manga, Part 2 – the concluding round of this great discussion, of which I’m very proud. After setting the scene and talking more broadly about aromantic and/or asexual coding and characters, we zero in and talk about Mine-kun is Asexual and Is Love the Answer?

Anime Feminist’s Recommendations of Winter 2023 – before we head into the new stuff, make sure to check back and read about our favourites from last season!

As for the new premiere reviews, here’s what I covered:

Alice Gear Aegis Expansion – allegedly an epic sci-fi, not that you’d be able to tell from watching the first episodes…

Insomniacs After School could be a very tender story about isolation and mental health, but could also be a “quirky girl pulls boy out of sadness hole” romantic fantasy.

MASHLE: Magic and Muscle – it’s called the Magic Realm because it is a world that has magic!

Otaku Elf – a goofy premise that’s carried on surprisingly solid, endearing character writing.

Skip and Loafer – an earnest, adorable coming-of-age story about a nervous overachiever moving to the big city.

Yuri is My Job! – gremlin protagonists and genre commentary? Sign me up!

Web fun

“Oh, it flopped” is common terminology in media criticism, but what does that actually mean—and does it mean that the work in question had no impact and no creative worth? Brendan of Wait in the Wings breaks this down specifically in the context of Broadway musicals and opens up a really insightful discussion. (Have I shared this one before? You’re getting it again. It’s a good ‘un)

Shiki is a delightfully chilling anime that I haven’t seen in years, but was happy to revisit with the help of Bess here. She goes into what exactly makes this show so scary, from the way it uses light and sound to draw us into the characters’ claustrophobic emotional states to the psychology behind the clash between townsfolk and vampires.

With so much anime in the world, how do you pick what to watch? Well, one answer to that is making an algorithm that picks for you. As this fella has explored, this leads to mixed results, but there’s always some interesting history to unearth and something insightful to discuss.

The Promising Return of the Australian Teen Onscreen – despite the coming-of-age story being a pop culture staple, media that depicts a uniquely Australian adolescence has been relatively few and far between; though that might be changing.

What Role are You Playing? Communication, Queerness, and Neurodivergence in Yuri is My Job! – in honour of the anime coming out, let’s revisit Vrai’s great piece on the many-layered miscommunications that underpin this series.

How Zines Paved the Way for Asexual Recognition – in honour of Ace Awareness Day, let’s revisit this article chronicling some of the history of asexual self-expression in self- or indie-published collections, some going back as far as the 1970s.

Looking Back on Newtype USA 15 Years Later – Kennedy reminisces on the rise and sudden fall of one of the most prominent and iconic English-language anime magazines, and how it serves as a time capsule of its era.

‘Daisy Jones’ and Hollywood’s Fictional Band Problem – what exactly goes into making real music for fake bands, and, most importantly, convincing the audience that this music is enough to rocket said band to stardom?

Speaking of music, here’s the song stuck in my head this month: it’s the opening theme to Otaku Elf, but it’s also a great, funky little tune (and music video) in itself!

And that’s all for now! I’ll see you all in a little while. Take care out there, okay?

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Another Batch of Scrambled Eggs: March ’23 Roundup

Iportant announcement before we begin: my blog will be going on a short hiatus for May. During April I’ll need to stop procrastinating, bunker down, and do my thesis revisions, which means I’ll have less time and energy to stack up the queue. Alas! Life responsibilities!! I appreciate your understanding in this dreadful time. I was determined to keep up my two-blogs-a-month schedule this year but may have to let it wobble just this once to make sure I don’t run myself into the ground.

For now though, March marches on, so let’s take a look back at what I published this time round:

On the blog

Wonder Egg Priority and the (Missed) Opportunities of Trans Magic – Egg’s worldbuilding leaves many questions unanswered, and proves contradictory in its treatment of its trans characters.

The PhDiaries, Part 2: Thesis Pieces – how do you come up with an Original Idea for your Original Contribution to Knowledge when you’re putting together your postgrad research? I can’t give you a perfect answer, but here’s what I did.

On AniFem

Aro/Ace Representation in Anime and Manga, Part 1 – join me, Dee, and Cy as we chat about the increasing amount of aro and/or ace characters in manga and anime.

Other fun stuff

I love a good time loop, but when these kind of sci-fi concept are applied to the romance genre certain uncomfortable tropes can rear their head. Rowan discusses!

Costume design can really make or break your immersion in a movie’s world, tone, and time period—come on a journey through this year’s Oscar nominees to see where they get it right.

How Otherside Picnic Masterfully Uses Horror to Explore Abuse and Show Healing Queer Love – Caitlin Donovan breaks down the central character arcs in the Otherside Picnic novels and how the horror scenario allows for a cutting but cathartic look at trauma and recovery.

For These Women of Color, Historical Dressing is a Modern Art Form – this collection of interviews showcases some fab collectors and makers of historical clothing, including some cool costuming folks I follow like Mina Le (above!), Sewstine, and Not Your Momma’s History.

Andrea Hannah and Trang Thanh Tran: The Nature of Horror – two spooky, floral queer YA novels came out this month, She is a Haunting and Where Darkness Blooms, and their authors got together for a chat about the potential of horror.

What We Can Learn About Labor Organization from Akiba Maid War – Lucas DeRuyter takes a deep dive in Maid War‘s fourth episode and how it showcases a textbook list of union-busting tactics and why they’re insidious.

Podcast town

I’ve been listening to a lot of pods again, including The Queer Movie Podcast, which—you’ll never guess—examines a variety of queer movies in the context of their genres, their development and reception, and their moments in history. Likewise, I’ve been enjoying This Ends At Prom, which covers coming-of-age films or stuff otherwise aimed at the teen girl demographic with a great academic-but-accessible lens. I can very much recommend them both—pick an episode based on the movie you want to hear about and hit play!

The song of the month comes to us from Miss Carly Rae again:

Aaaand that’s all for now. Watch this space for imminent anime reviews, stay hydrated, and I’ll see you on the flipside.

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A Cruel Angel’s Thesis Feedback: February ’23 Roundup

February: shorter than average in day-count, but a big month nonetheless! This month, I got my examination feedback on my PhD thesis and passed with minor revisions! This means I’ve got one last step to complete: going through the draft and making those revisions, line-editing for typos and clarification, and adding a couple more threads of research and citation to the tapestry that is this work.

As you might imagine, I’m stoked with this result. Given that they basically never tell anyone “this was perfect” first try, minor revisions is the highest grade you can get. It’s so rewarding to see all the hard work I (and my supervisors) put into refining this thing be reflected in this feedback. Look forward to updates as I put the actual, honest to goodness final touches on it!

Oh, and happy Pride! I do all my pride-themed blogging in June for better SEO, but Australia’s celebration of queer community and history happens in February.

On the blog

The Rise of Cosy Sci-fi and Fantasy in the Pandemic Era – a tasting platter of some “comfort food” genre fiction that responds directly to the harrowing circumstances of the 2020s.

The PhDiaries, Part 1: This is All Joseph Campbell’s Fault – with the doctorate nearly done, why not take a retrospective trip to how I got here?


Anime Feminist’s Top Picks for 2022 – the staff submit their favourites from last year.

2023 Winter Three-Episode Check-in – I weigh in on Endo and Kobayashi Live and “Ippon” Again! as the season progresses.

In the Journal of Popular Romance Studies

Genre-savvy Protagonists in Queer YA Rom-coms – a short (by academic standards, anyway!), free to read article in the journal’s Notes From the Field imprint, adapted from a presentation I gave in late 2021.

Webbed sites

It’s always time to talk about Witch Hat Atelier, in this case the way the manga series uses something as simple and structural as its page layout to create a sense of magic.

“Live-action American anime adaptation” is a phrase that makes me groan, at this point, but these works exist on a sliding scale.

The Reads Rainbow Awards 2022 – results of a popular vote on the year’s queer books.

The Phantom of Ghost Stories: Double Standards in the War on “Localization” – why do the same people who class the gag dub of Ghost Stories as riotously funny turn around and call other adapted scripts “butchering the show”? A nuanced and critical look at the vitriol that often surrounds script changes in English dubs and the many contradictions that can crop up in these discussions.

Ask Alice: Why Don’t Fantasy and Sci-fi Get the Respect They Deserve? – a brief look at some of the issues facing Australian authors trying to publish young adult SFF, and some hopeful comments on the changing shape of the market.

The Transient Queerness of Fruits Basket – for all the things this series does well, it also has a habit of treating gender non-conformity and same-gender attraction as phases its troubled characters will grow out of.

This YA Novel Reinvents the Romcom for an Ace Teen Protagonist – an interview with Haley Neil about her new book and navigating the expectations of queer (and other) representation in a fluffy romance.

Two Clever Princesses, Two Feminist Fairytales: Princess Arete vs The Clever Princess – Patricia Baxter compares a satirical, zany short story with its significantly more sombre, more epic film adaptation, and explores how these differences in tone allow for the story’s feminist themes to come across in different ways.

This month’s song on repeat is a little more mellow than some of my previous ones. Come enjoy it with me:

And that’s a wrap. Take care and I’ll see you again soon!

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Oops! All Isekai! January ’23 Roundup

Phew, okay, is that it? Was that January? Bye, I guess! It felt like you didn’t stick around for long!

2023 has hit the ground running. Here’s what I got up to this month:

On AniFem

It is once again premiere season! I took a lighter workload this time round, and just covered…

Campfire Cooking in Another World with My Absurd Skill – not necessarily much nutritional value, but a fun light snack.

Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World for My Retirement – tonally inconsistent to the point of being baffling rather than entertaining.

Sugar Apple Fairy Tale – to be fair, this one’s not an isekai in the portal fantasy sense. But it is a fantasy shoujo romance dealing in some power dynamics that are fraught to say the least.

Anime Feminist’s Recommendations of Fall 2022 – while we’re getting swept up in the new wave of content, let’s not forget to look back at the staff favourites from the previous season.

And don’t forget Patreon!

Everyone gets early access to my first blog post of the year, and from tier two upwards you get a short piece of fiction writing every month!

Content to Enjoy

Settle in for a journey through history… or, at least, the way various film and TV makers represented history in the media of 2022.

I always enjoy Mike’s “appropriately unhinged recap” videos, and I do love how they get more elaborate and less hinged each time. Tune in this month for a rundown of Gossip Girl seasons one and two, icons and time capsules of late ’00s teen drama.

This month I learned about “Scamilton”, an illegal performance of the hit musical Hamilton by a Texas Christian group who er… made some adaptational changes.

Your Body is a Haunted House: Hiron Ennes on the Discomfiting Tradition of Medical Horror – the first book I read in 2023 was Hiron Ennes’ Leech, a gothic sci-fi body horror extravaganza whose inspirations are so nicely explored in this article here. Doctors are scary, sure, but simply having a body is a terror of its own!

Orientalism and Occidentalism in Anime – stereotyped treatments of “the East” in the scholarship and pop culture of Europe are worth unpacking, but so too is the treatment of “the West” in Japanese media, all of which carries its own historical, social, and artistic baggage.

Book Releases: LGBT YA Books of January – June 2023 – I’m still doing my best to keep up with upcoming releases, and resources like this are always helpful! Give them a look.

#LoveOzYA Reads We Can’t Wait For in 2023 – and closer to home, here is a list of some of the Australian books in the pipeline this year! What’s that An Unexpected Party anthology they mention at the end, hmm? That sounds interesting…

For the song stuck in my head this month, I’m revisiting a classic.

February’s just around the corner, and 2023 is keeping on keeping on. I’ll see you over there!

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Twenty-Twenty-Through: December ’22 Roundup

Obligatory I can’t believe it’s the end of the year! end of year post! Once more, dear friends, it’s been a weird and wild ride. There has been plenty of lows in 2022, but there have also been plenty of highs:

Exciting Things I Achieved this year:

  • Handed in my PhD!! At time of writing this I’m still waiting on results, so examiner feedback will officially be a problem for 2023 Alex. But the biggest share of the work is done.
  • Got two short stories published (hilariously, within about a month of each other, even though that’s not the timeline on which they were written)! You can read ‘Legs’ and ‘Coast Roads’ for free online.
  • Ran an independent writing workshop! I put together eight sessions for a local queer organisation and introduced a small group of interested students to the ins and outs of different aspects of writing. Because we secured a grant, I got paid for my time and we were able to offer this workshop for free. All going to plan, a collection of the attendees’ short stories will be going to print next year!
  • Helped run a queer book club at my uni! I kicked things off with three months of fun, discussion-worthy novels and got everyone (well, the dedicated few who consistently turned up—you guys rock) to read Loveless, One Last Stop, and Cemetery Boys.

And hey, I’ve been writing:

All in all, I hope to say that things are looking up, and that there will be many exciting things to share here in the coming twelve months. I hope the same is true for all of you, and I hope that you all managed to get some sort of rest in that strange liminal space between Christmas and New Year.

On the blog

Queer YA Spotlight: Where You Left Us squeezing in one last spotlight post for the year, showcasing Rhiannon Wilde’s gothic-ish tale of two sisters figuring out a family mystery (and their own issues).

The Best Books I Read in 2022 – from fun rom-coms to funky sci-fi, check out my favourite novels from the past trip around the sun! These are always really fun posts to curate, so I hope you all enjoy them.

The Best Anime I Watched in 2022 – from hobby shows to fantasy adventures to… uh… very serious yakuza dramas… here are my favourite anime series from this year.

On AniFem

Girls Doing Stuff: Agency and Motivation in Girls’ Hobby Shows – chill hobby series make up some of my favourite anime, but was it about them that appeals to me so deeply? Read to find out!

Sex Ed 120% Part 1 and Part 2 – a podcast chat about an under-the-radar edutainment manga that aims to address the gaps in Japan’s sex ed curriculum with humour and surprising inclusivity.

And don’t forget Patreon!

For my Tricky Tricksters tier and up, I’m pushing past my nerves and posting excerpts of the new creative project I’m working on! This month, you get to meet Protagonist #3 of The Doorways Book, and finally get a first peek at one of these titular mysterious, magical doorways.

Things to Enjoy on the Internet

In superhero stories, “saving the world” often means making sure the world does not get changed. While this stems from the serialised format that kicked the genre off—resetting the story at the end of the episode/comic book so they can be enjoyed in any order—this has the knock-on effect of making modern superheroes into conservative figures who keep the status quo in place, while attempts at social change or questioning power structures are marked as villainous.

T’is the season to be horrified by the oppressive terrors of patriarchal systems and gendered violence! Here, Maggie compares the original Black Christmas against its 2019 remake/reboot and how the latter updates and plays on the core themes. Pairs nicely with This Ends at Prom‘s podcast episode on the same topic!

“If I Was Born as a Girl…” Transfeminine Desire in Stop!! Hibari-kun – a retrospective on a goofy 1980s rom-com that quite accidentally became a queer icon by virtue of treating its “boy dressed as a girl” heroine with compassion and respect.

Does Toradora! Hold Up Today? – short answer: yes! Long answer: this romcom gets much of its staying power from its strong characters and its focus on their growth.

Please Start Reading Books for What They Are – an evergreen post imploring reviewers—whether professional or personal—to take the genre and demographic context of a work into consideration and to meet the novel where it lives. i.e. maybe don’t complain that the plot of a children’s book feels uncomplicated or that a romance has a neat, happy ending.

Making Up and Making Waves: How Tropical-Rouge! PreCure Rewrote Narratives of Femininity and Fairy Tales – magical girls, cosmetics, and the fairy princess aesthetic have long gone hand in hand, but Ayumi Shinozaki argues here that 2021’s Pretty Cure instalment takes a refreshing approach to these topics.

Answerman: What Happened to Shoujo Anime? – shifting market niches and the notion that girls “grow out of” animation are among the reasons that we’re seeing fewer shoujo adaptations, even though this demographic retains a hungry audience.

Revisiting the Popularity and Cultural Context of Vampire Knight – take a blood-splattered, lace-clad walk down memory lane to the distant year of 2008, and see why this gothic shoujo melodrama serves as a perfect time capsule of the fantasies being sold to teen girls at the time.

I know I posted a Tom Cardy song a couple of months ago, and I really don’t like to double up, but the dreadful truth is I’ve had this one on loop in my brain since the start of December. Please enjoy a very silly and deeply compelling tale of the Old West.

And that’s all for now, and all for the year! I’ll see you all very soon for yet more adventures. Stay safe out there, one and all.


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National Novel Fighting Month: November ’22 Roundup


[EDIT a couple of hours after publication: I really did mean to put something more coherent there instead of that placeholder text. I really did. It’s been that kind of month in that kind of year!]

On the blog

A Pile of Australian Queer YA – what does the world of LGBTQIA+ teen fiction look like in Aussie publishing? Here are some recs and reviews from my recent investigation!

Young Adult, New Adult (???) and the Weird Business of Demographics – where lie the borders between genres and target audiences, and who draws them?

On AniFem

Fall 2022 Three-Episode Check-in – from princesses with books to maids with guns, let’s see how this season’s crop of new shows are coming along!

In The International Journal of Young Adult Literature

From Painters to Pirates: A Study of Non-binary Protagonists in Young Adult Fiction – a new scholarly paper, free to read! This scoops up and lays out a bunch of my thesis data, representing a lot of research work.

And don’t forget Patreon!

There are multiple exciting things happening over there! For all patrons, I’m writing up a series of PhDiaries: a retrospective on my experience completing an Arts doctorate, fashioned into a guide for those interested! For my Tricky Tricksters tier and up, I’m pushing past my nerves and posting excerpts of the new creative project I’m working on. This month, you get to meet Protagonist #2 of The Doorways Book. He’ll steal your stuff, but he’ll be so debonair about it.

Web reading

Liminality! We love it! Surreal, transitory spaces offer a deep uncanniness that many creatives love to play with, from net lore to horror films to House of Leaves. So what is “liminal horror” and why does it work?

Don’t Worry Darling is a movie with a lot of mess surrounding it, and a lot of mess in its plot and themes, too. Amanda looks at the changes made from the original script, the revised script, and the final version to see where things perhaps went wonky. Pairs nicely with her podcast co-host Friendly Space Ninja’s video on the same film.

While pretty common in anime and manga, the low-stakes cosy fantasy is relatively rare in English-language prose. Willow discusses the appeal of this twist on the genre and the fun new possibilities that pop up when epic conflicts aren’t the focus.

As the Buddha’s Temple Bells Toll: Looking Back to Kyoto Animation – Adam Wescott muses on The Heike Story and Looking Back, two very different artworks that both respond to the tragic arson attacks at KyoAni’s studio in 2019, and the way that storytellers might process grief or offer catharsis using very different genres.

Book Advances Are a Gamble, Not a Prize – author Anwen Crawford reflects on the current ways that authors get paid for their books, and how the industry norm is a risky, low-paying business for creatives.

Work Sucks, I Know: The Marxist Horror of Aggretsuko – would you believe I could never finish watching Aggretsuko because it was too stressful? Jeremy Tauber explores the ways this comedy depicts the inescapable terrors of capitalism, and the irony of it doing this so well whilst also being a Sanrio production trying to sell you mascot merch.

Is Bocchi the Rock! Mean to Bocchi? – when this show mines its protagonist’s anxiety for over-the-top comedy, is it asking us to laugh with her or at her? Your perspective may vary, but here is one from Bless.

On Developing a Non-combat Focused Magic System and Addressing Issues of Inequality Through Storytelling – I started reading the Book of Tea duology this month, and found this article by author Judy I. Lin super interesting.

Discussion: Goodreads Choice Awards 2022 & LGBT Books – stats on how many of the nominated books have queer characters, how those numbers compare to previous years, and which categories seem to consistently hold the most.

If I’m being honest, the song I have stuck in my head, whether I like it or not, is this. For a better option, though, try this:

See you all next time—for the final month of 2022!


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Getting Spooky with Tanuki: October ’22 Roundup

There’s always something exciting about premiere review season: the thrill of the chase! The search for a spark! Throwing myself into a world of stories and asking them to win my heart! It’s a tiring time, sure, but I genuinely find it so much fun. Back in the earlier days of AniFem, I would always look forward to these posts, and it’s very rewarding to think that now I get to be a part of that from the other side—helping inform people and maybe helping someone find a new favourite.

What are you folks watching this season? As you can see, it’s a pretty stacked one!

On AniFem

AniFem’s Recommendations of Summer 2022 – live, laugh, Love Live Superstar.

Bibliophile Princess – a shallow historical fantasy that wants you to believe its protagonist is so much smarter than other girls, than has her make extremely silly snap decisions.

BOCCHI the ROCK! – while your mileage may vary on whether you find the protag’s anxiety relatable or over-the-top cutesy, I personally really enjoyed this and wish her all the best in her musical dreams.

Do It Yourself!! – goofy girls, charming visuals, and power tools add up to make this a fun start to a hobby show.

I’ve Somehow Gotten Stronger When I Improved My Farm-Related Skills – bless their hearts, they tried to turn one of those “can you beat Skyrim with only a farming hoe?” gaming videos into a whole fantasy series. It was very boring.

Love Flops – if this had just been a bad, stupid comedy we might all have been able to move on with our lives. As well as being a bad, stupid comedy, however, it’s a bad, stupid comedy with a disgusting concept at the heart of its “humour”.

More Than a Married Couple, but Not Lovers – a rom-com that does not unpack the heteronormative ideas baked into its premise—and doesn’t even lean into the potential comedy in its absurd fake dating set-up.

Tekken: Bloodline – bit rough when your most interesting character is the mum who dies immediately for angst purposes, hey?

On the blog

Tanuki, Technology, and Tricksters in My Master Has No Tail – an ode to this intriguing and very meta series about trickster spirits trying to adapt to humanity’s troublesome advances. A blog post during premiere season?? Well, listen: I was really charmed by the first few episodes of this show, and I couldn’t stand the thought of Love Flops sitting at the front of the site for the whole rest of the month. Consider it a bonus!

And don’t forget Patreon!

There are multiple exciting things happening over there! For all patrons, I’m writing up a series of PhDiaries: a retrospective on my experience completing an Arts doctorate, fashioned into a guide for those interested! For my Tricky Tricksters tier and up, I’m pushing past my nerves and posting excerpts of the new creative project I’m working on. This month, you get to read (what is currently) the opening, and meet one of its protagonists!

Webbed sites

Arguably one of the first “aesthetics” (in an Internet sense, ya know), the Gibson Girl is a fictionalised, aspirational vision of femininity that dominates much of our current mental image of the early 20th century. She’s an interesting figure to discuss because she represents so many cultural ideas and issues, in conversation with many art, fashion, and political trends that have come since.

Demographics: they’re complicated! There’s industry-wide disagreement on what qualifies as a shoujo (“girls manga”) or a josei (“ladies’ manga”), so how do we tell the difference—especially when titles published as josei keep winning shoujo awards, and vice versa? Is it in the sexual content? The happy ending? The focus on “life before marriage” or “life after marriage”? Colleen is on the case!

The Problem with the Internet’s Obsession with Queerbaiting – queerbaiting, which was once a rallying cry for accountability for an exploitative creator-fan dynamic, has become an accusation that might ultimately harm, rather than help, LGBTQ+ people. A real human cannot “queerbait” you, gang!

How Healer Girl Calmly Created a New Way to be Magical – Ayumi examines this year’s Healer Girl in the context of the magical girl genre’s history.

The song stuck in my head this month is this piece of contemporary Australian Culture. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

And that’s all for now—see you all again soon!

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BEES?! September ’22 Roundup

It’s been an exciting, tiring, weird month in the limbo land of having-submitted-and-waiting-for-results. There’s something funny I can say about how I’ve found myself in a liminal space after spending so much time writing about them, I’m sure, but mostly I’m just trying to enjoy the lull. Of course, other things have kept me busy, but I’m forcing myself to rest, write for fun, and just, like… lie down and do nothing, sometimes. It rules. Can highly recommend lying down.

In the meantime, though, I have more tangible, fictional things to recommend, such as…

On the blog

The Cosy Theology of Monk and Robot – Becky Chambers’ newest series is “comfy sci-fi” right down to the worldbuilding.

Queer YA Spotlight: The Honeys – Ryan La Sala’s third novel is an unhinged spectacular of social commentary, body horror, and bees, oh the beeeeeees

Short fiction

Coast Roads – you know those weirdly deep conversations and revelations you sometimes have on a long road trip? Here’s a little story about one of those.

On The Conversation

Teenage Misfits, Messy Emotions, and Joyous Discussions on Consent: Heartbreak High is a Bright New Piece of TV – Netflix and The Convo were kind enough to let me peek at the first three episodes of this new reboot of a classic Aussie drama—here are my thoughts!

Around the web

Have I mentioned I played probably thousands of hours of The Sims 2 when I was a teen? Here’s a trip down memory lane, exploring and celebrating the eerie and mysterious aspects woven through the game’s pre-built families and background lore—all working to built an effective atmosphere while still keeping the game officially out of the horror or mystery genre.

15 years (!!!) after the release of the Baccano! anime, it’s time for a retrospective on what exactly made the adaptation so special when it should have been an impossible task.

Many people multitask while playing games, but are games being designed to not hold our full attention so we can multitask? (As someone who finds multitasking pretty difficult, this was a genuinely fascinating insight!)

The Sandman: How the Representations of Dreams and Nightmares Have Changed Over Time – what do dreams mean? Where do they come from? The way we talk about our sleepytime adventures and the mythological figures associated with them have evolved with each era of storytelling and psychology.

Tamsyn Muir on Lyctorhood as Genderfuckery and Greasy Bible Study in Nona the Ninth – did I mention I love reading interviews with this author?

Why I Cancelled My Crunchyroll Membership – long-time anime journalist Lauren Orsini on the ethics of supporting an increasingly corporate Crunchyroll, as it continues to underpay its staff and shuffle off employees who seek to unionise.

Look who’s listening to podcasts again!

Per one of my patron’s recommendations (!) I’ve been listening to, and really enjoying, This Ends At Prom, a podcast about girl coming-of-age movies! This wife-and-wife team—one of which carries deep nostalgia for a lot of their topics, one of which had a teenage boyhood and is coming to them fresh in her adult life—cover a variety of films from Scream to The Mitchells vs The Machines to Phantom of the Opera (yes, the 2004 Gerard Butler venture, which they have The Correct Opinions about). Their insights are great, drawing on both life experience and their film industry know-how, and they often have lovely guests as well.

And the song on repeat this month is…

You gotta have the cowboy boots. You just do.

And that’s all for now! October is time for new anime (again!) so look forward to all the links to my reviews and first impressions. Take care of yourselves, and I’ll see you on the flipside.


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“We Do Bones”: August ’22 Roundup


That’s right! It’s me!!

A couple of weeks later than the deadline I announced (that’ll teach me to announce such things publicly, ha) due to some factors outside of my control, but by golly, it’s polished, all its obvious technical and theoretical holes are patched, and its off on its way to my examination panel! 

As you can possibly imagine, things have been a little surreal since I sent my 105,000 word literary behemoth child out into the world to win some hearts and shape some minds. I’ve been trying to I adjust to not always having something to work on, something to research, something to refine, something to do. Now, my non-teaching time is, well, free time, where there isn’t a major project thrumming away in the background waiting for my attention. Yes, I have some other projects I would love to slot into that new empty space. But I’m also going to schedule in a hefty dose of lying down in the sun and doing absolutely nothing.

I’m still writing though, of course. Always always. Let’s look back at what I put out this month:

On the blog

The Queer Art of Not Staying Dead – we all know the Bury Your Gays trope, but here are some fantasy novels that are un-burying their queer protagonists in very satisfying ways.

Queer YA Spotlight: The Monster of Her Age – set in an alternate universe where Australia’s film industry is on par with Hollywood, this is a charming, moving story about grief and horror movies.

On AniFem

Summer 2022 Three-Episode Check-in – how are the new shows going in a season of ghouls and goofs?

Short fiction

Legs – the online literary zine EnbyLife was generous enough to publish a short story of mine! This one’s about the strange rituals associated with doing girlhood “properly”, and how something an annoying teenager says to you in passing can stick in your head forever.

Webbed sites

What does “historical accuracy” even mean, and can we apply these notions to fantasy? As Bernadette breaks down, often this is to do with creating a sense of logic, verisimilitude, and cohesion that makes your made-up world feel like a real place people might live day-to-day.

Listen, I maintain my argument that Rent-a-Girlfriend had potential… which makes it all the more painful that it divebombed into stupidity… which makes it all the more cathartic when other people tear its stagnant, sexist, downright silly narrative to shreds.

I’ve also been really enjoying diving into Mina Le’s backlog of well-researched and nicely-presented videos on various niches of fashion history. What does it mean to “dress rich” and where does that pop cultural image come from? What history and imagery is Lana del Rey drawing on for her carefully-constructed persona and why is it falling apart in the year of our lord 2022? She also has heaps on movie and TV costumes, but I’ve been having fun absorbing these glimpses into aesthetic worlds I wouldn’t normally chat about.

I’ve also been enjoying watching fashion historian Nicole Rudolph put together a… Muppets cosplay. No, really. It’s literally so good. The series starts here! You will learn so much!

“Differences Die at the Door”: A Postmortem of Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop – alright, so NetBop was canned, but getting to the heart of why involves a deeper dive than the memes. In this article, Madeline examines the creative influences behind the original versus the adaptation, revealing key differences that lead to the latter feeling “repugnant in a uniquely American way”.

All the Dangerous Things Ryan La Sala has Done in the Name of Research – author of Reverie, Be Dazzled, and the please-arrive-in-the-mail-soon new release The Honeys, La Sala has engaged with some chaos in the name of “method writing”—from infiltrating a cosplay contest, to urban exploration, to accidentally unveiling a beekeeper’s curse.

The song on repeat this month is a much more mellow vibe than July’s bop. It’s making me crave a visit to the ocean…

And that’s all folks! See you on the flipside.


Filed under Monthly Roundups

ALEX.exe has Stopped Running: July ’22 Roundup

Well, maybe that’s not quite accurate—at the very least, I’m running on dial-up speed. But I did a lot of writing this month, so let’s take a look back at that shall we?

On AniFem

Anime Feminist’s Recommendations of Spring 2022 – here’s a roundup of the team’s top picks from the past season!

Chatty AF #165: 2022 Spring Wrap-up – and here’s the podcast edition, wherein a tried/sick trio looks back on faves and disappointments.

Extreme Hearts – Episode 1 – a baffling hybrid of sci-fi, sports, and idols.

Parallel World Pharmacy – Episode 1 – an unexpectedly compelling spin on the overdone “zapped into a fantasy world with immense magic powers” trope… let’s hope it gives its female characters more to do in future episodes to really make it shine!

Luminous Witches – Episode 1 – war! What is it good for? Speculative fiction anime starring cool teen girls, that’s what.

Lycoris Recoil – Episode 1 – as we all know, the most effective assassins are sixteen-year-old girls. But will this show play that straight, or offer some social commentary on state violence?

My Isekai Life – Episode 1 – competent but ultimately deeply dull fantasy.

TEPPEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Laughing ’til You Cry – Episode 1 – as you might guess from the number of exclamation points in the title, this series has ENERGY!

When Will Ayumo Make His Move? – Episode 1 – if Kaguya-sama: Love is War is “teens play mindgames and refuse to be honest about their feelings (affectionate)” this is “teens play mindgames and refuse to be honest about their feelings (derogatory)”.

The World of Academia

Over the first weekend of July, I (virtually) attended a conference for the Australian Children’s Literature Association for Research. The vibe was great overall, and I got to sit in on some fascinating discussions about diversity in kidlit and YA from a range of research perspectives. And I presented some of my own! A transcript (and biblio) can be found here.

And don’t forget Patreon!

Yes, even though keep forgetting to link to it, don’t you forget that it’s there! For $2 a month you get early access to all my blog posts, and for $5 you get a little bit of short fiction in your inbox once a month!

Webbed sites

A common complaint lobbed at the shoujo demographic is that “it’s all the same”. Colleen unpacks that assumption here, pointing out that the variety within contemporary shoujo is genuinely impressive… but painfully inaccessible to English-language audiences.

It has become a fact universally acknowledged that Netflix’s new Persuasion adaptation is bad. But why, exactly? As Karolina breaks down here, a lot of it has to do with the treatment of the protagonist, who is denied the character growth that made her story so special by being written as a Modern Snarky Girlboss from minute one.

Willow reviews a manga I’ve been meaning to check out for a while—the delectable Delicious in Dungeon, which focuses on the nitty-gritty details of a fantasy world and all the tasty bits of lore and logistics that might usually get brushed over in favour of a more epic adventure.

Five Great LGBTQ+ Series with Disappointing Anime Adaptations – Vrai laments the various ways these queer stories were let down in the adaptation process, from seemingly random re-ordering of the narrative to production woes to excessive fanservice, and everything in between.

A Neurodiverse Reading of Eizouken‘s Asakusa Midori – Patricia highlights what resonates with her about Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken‘s lovable, atypical, creative main character.

The Forgotten Surprises of Anime VHS Commercials – Anthony takes us on a trip down memory lane into the weird, wild world of early anime advertising, which often took a somewhat shotgun approach.

The song stuck in my head this month is about mad, gay science.

And that’s all for now! Take care and I’ll see you again soon!

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